EXPERT Q&A

Should we circumcise our newborn son?

Opting to circumcise your newborn son is a decision that many parents face. Learn the different factors to consider when making this decision from CareNectar expert Crystal Morgan.

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Question

We are due any day and have been back and forth on whether or not to circumcise our son once he’s born. What are the benefits of circumcising—or not—and how should we make our decision?

Answer

Congratulations on your new baby! There’s a lot for new parents to think about—and deciding whether or not to circumcise is one of them.

Of course, choosing to circumcise your son is optional. It has been considered to be one of the most common procedures performed during the newborn period, it’s wise to make yourself fully informed before deciding to do so. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not make a recommendation either way, but states that the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks and that the decision to circumcise is best made by parents in consultation with their pediatrician. This decision should also be made with consideration of your child’s best interest as well as your individual ethical, cultural, and religious beliefs. Specifically, the AAP says the following:

“Parents ultimately should decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their male child. They will need to weigh medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices. The medical benefits alone may not outweigh these other considerations for individual families.”

The benefits of circumcision include a decreased incidence of penile cancer, unitary tract infections, foreskin infections, and sexually transmitted infections. It also makes it easier to keep the penis clean. However, with any procedure there are risks, including bleeding, pain, infection, and irritation of the meatus and glans. It’s also important to note that the likelihood of complications in the circumcision procedure increases as children get older, so the newborn period is the optimal time for this procedure to take place.

Knowing how to care for your newborn’s penis with or without a circumcision is important and may help with your decision as well. After the circumcision, a petroleum dressing will be applied for 24 hours. When performed in the hospital, the nursing staff will remove it or be instructed on how to remove it if you are being discharged home within those 24 hours. Vaseline should be applied to the tip of the penis and the front of the diaper area to prevent it from adhering. The diaper should then be loosely fastened. Routine diaper care should be performed making sure to remove any stool from the penis when needed.

If you choose to not circumcise, there are still some hygiene practices to be mindful of. Until the foreskin can retract, the genital area should be cleaned with mild soap and water.  When able, the foreskin should be pulled back gently and cleaned with soap and water. After drying completely, the foreskin can then be gently pulled forward making sure to cover the glans. Further, all uncircumcised boys can learn proper hygiene techniques in order to prevent infections throughout their life.

Remember, this decision is up to you and your partner, and there are many factors to consider. And kudos to you for giving this some thought prior to your baby’s birth. We hope this helps, and the CareNectar team is here for you if you have any additional questions.

Meet The Expert


Crystal Morgan

Crystal is a Board-Certified Lactation Consultant and Family Nurse Practitioner with more than 18 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in Labor and Delivery, Postpartum, and Newborn Nursery. She is passionate about all things related to women’s health and maternal child including breastfeeding education and support, and health and wellness promotion. Learn more and contact her at: toughtittylactation.com